Protection from terrorism is worth a little loss in privacy

Regarding the Dec. 20 article, "Bush acts to rally public on Iraq war": We do not need politicians who are more interested in votes than they are in national security. A little more than four years ago our nation was mourning 9/11. We even managed (or appeared) to set aside our political differences in the interests of America for the first time in a long time. Since then, we have demanded that our government do a better job of defending our country. Now it appears that politics is once again more important than national security.

Concern over privacy is a legitimate one, but what we may lose in privacy is almost nothing compared to what we can lose in more terrorist attacks. It is understandable that Americans don't want government looking over their shoulders all the time. But most Americans are law-abiding citizens - and most have nothing to fear from the kinds of surveillance that is at issue with the politicians today. The truth is that if a person doesn't do anything illegal, he or she won't get caught doing anything illegal. It's time to wake up to that fact.

We Americans have criticized our government in the past for not being vigilant enough. The political outcome of our reluctance to use our national surveillance capabilities was 9/11. I care about privacy. But if we establish the surveillance system necessary to stop terrorists and catch a few child-molesters along the way, I won't be upset.

There are other ways to protect our citizens from a "snoopy" government that don't involve destroying efforts to stop terrorist attacks. Let's focus on the serious problems that face America today and quit worrying about votes.
Craig Cochran
Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The MTA deserves scrutiny, too

Your Dec. 21 editorial, "Public unions on trial in the Big Apple," presents a one-sided representation of the issues between labor and the transit authority. It points to a possible $1 billion deficit in 2009, failing to mention a certain $1 billion surplus today.

A balanced editorial would also point out the problems with MTA credibility. According to a Dec. 18 New York Daily News article, the MTA lost $300 million to fraud and cost overruns building its own headquarters, prompting Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to say, "Of all the authorities, the MTA is the most mismanaged, least competent one out there, and everybody knows it." The same article notes that Controller Alan Hevesi found that the MTA kept two sets of books - one for the public, and another with the real numbers.

True, soaring healthcare costs are fast becoming a crisis, but this points to a need for a "universal" single-payer healthcare system for our country, not a system that places more of a burden on an already strapped middle class.

And as for the ballot initiatives of Governor Schwarzenegger: They were not shot down by wealthy ad campaigners, but by the will of the people via votes - at a cost of at least $50 million of taxpayer money.
Jason Campbell
Ridgewood, N.J.

Voters can't fix a gerrymander

I find your Dec. 19 editorial, "Let voters fix a gerrymander," disturbing, since the whole point of any electoral rigging is to deprive voters of a fair election. If a fair election is not possible, then a revolution of some sort is required. Without a fair election, the gerrymanderers are extremely difficult to get rid of - which is why the world's best practice for elections is to have neutral electoral commissions governing all aspects of the electoral process.
Peter Murphy
Canberra, Australia

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